No. 25: Crockpot Chicken Chili Con Carne & Tostada Stacks

We were just a few months into the 'real world' and out of grad school when Mr. McCormick and I set up our wedding registry. We could already see the writing on the wall - that weeknight dinners were going to be tough to manage with all that working going on.

We needed help. We needed a slow cooker.

Thus, our All Clad crockpot was one of the top items on our list. It's a behemoth. Way too big for practicality (you don't want to haul it to a friend's house for gameday).

And it was so worth it.

Chicken Chili Con Carne

Fast forward to my friend, Nicole, coming over on a Thursday night after work for dinner. It's slow cooker time!

Ingredients

1 pound (2-3 breasts) boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into big chunks
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 12 ounce bottle of beer
2 cups chicken broth, plus more if needed
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon hot sauce

To make

To the bowl of a crockpot add the onion, red pepper and garlic. Place the chicken on top.

Chicken

Measure out 2 cups of chicken broth in a separate bowl, add the tomato paste and brown sugar. Whisk until combined. Add the mixture to the crockpot. Next add the beer, diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, cocoa powder, salt and pepper. Lightly stir to combine.

Soupy mix

(Nothing seems to ever look good going in a crockpot.)

Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 8 to 9 hours.

If the chili seems too thin remove, the lid and let cook while you make the tostada chips.

Stacked Tostadas

Ingredients

16 small corn tortillas
Olive oil or cooking spray
1/8 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup pickled jalapenos*
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving
4 green onions, chopped, for serving
1 avocado, chopped, for serving

*Regular jalapenos are fine

Additional optional toppings include: crumbled cooked bacon,
greek yogurt or sour cream, Fritos

To make

About 30 minutes before you are ready to eat, preheat the oven to 475 degrees and place a rack in the top of the oven and one right below.

In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, chili powder and smoked paprika. Stir to combine.

Line the corn tortillas in a single layer on 2 baking sheets. Spray with cooking spray or rub with olive oil and then generously sprinkle on the seasonings.

Seasoned tortillas

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the tortillas are just beginning to turn golden brown, rotating the pans (top goes below now) half way through. Remove from the oven and repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Take 4 baked tortillas and spread each with a little shredded cheddar. Place back in the oven to melt for about 1 or 2 minutes, remove and top each cheesy chip with a non cheesy chip.

To assemble the stacks, place one plain tostada on a plate, spread with cheese and then top with the hot chili. Now grab one of the cheesy chips and place it on top, top that chip with hot chili and them a sprinkle more of the cheese. Finally add one more plain chip, top with chili and more cheese.

Repeat with the remaining chips, until you have four stacks. Top each stack with avocado, cilantro, jalapeƱos, a dollop of greek yogurt and Fritos if desired.

The results

For a weeknight, the timing of this dish is amazing. The chili is done and staying warm, all you have to prep are the tortillas.

The stacking methodology above was quite intensive, and I only had six tortillas. So I just seasoned, baked and topped them with cheese for a tower effect that wasn't quite as robust.

Stack

We did finish them with yummy tortilla strips, cilantro, avocado and tomato. Yum.

But the best part about this recipe is the chicken chili con carne. It's full of flavor and the cocoa powder gives a mole sauce sort of richness to it all.

The sauce did end up a bit thin, so I simmered it for 30 minutes or so in the slow cooker with the lid off to thicken it a bit. I might just do 6 ounces of beer next time to keep the water level a tad lower.

Moving forward, I'll use the chili for tacos, enchiladas or burrito filling. I'll also try putting whole breasts in the pot and separate them with forks after cooking for a shredded chicken effect.

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